Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting Back to Normal

Life was just about back to normal today but then Leen jumped over the hammock to make her brother, Kyle, laugh. She caught her foot and came crashing down on her face. She bruised her face, cut her nose and walked around with an icepack on her face for a while but she seems to be ok. This of course happened while Jim was at the ER getting the blood poisoning he developed, complements of a cat scratch, taken care of. I'm not kidding, even I'm not capable of making this stuff up. Oh well, at least Kyle didn't split his stitches laughing at his sister.

The events of the last few hours aside, things are getting back to normal although I really feel out of sorts. Kyle spent 9 days in the hospital and for the most part so did Jim and I. When he went in, there was plenty of summer left. When he came out there was only a week and a half of summer left. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things knowing I'll be changing gears in a few days.

Mostly I'm spending my time being amazed at my son's recovery and examining his poop as instructed by the surgeon so I can report back at his follow up visit next week. Kyle thinks this is great fun. (Imagine telling an 8 year old boy that to get out of the hospital he has to fart, poop and eat. Does life get any better? My son didn't think so.)

In frugal food news, we're trying to use up what we have on hand so I don't have to take it home. On the bean front, we're down to kidney beans, chickpeas and a few lonely green split peas. Tonight I made chili with homemade tomatillo salsa (I had to do something with those tomatillos from the CSA!) I thought it was too watery so I tossed some bulgur in rather than serving it on the side. It was simple and delicious. We've also become huge fans of the sourdough pancake recipe from The Vegan Family Cookbook. Cooking just feels so normal after all that time in the hospital.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and thoughts. Honestly, the thing that got us through this experience was the kindness of the people around us. In the hospital, we encountered so many parents of sick children, nurses, doctors, volunteers and other hospital staff. All of them were so kind to us. You can't imagine the relief of being shown to a room in the hospital to sleep in while your son spends his first night in the intensive care unit just down the hall, or the gratitude felt toward a father who saw us looking bewildered as we tried to get into the intensive care unit and showed us how to work the phone so we could be let in, or the relief in knowing that the Ronald Mcdonald room(yes, it hurts me to say this but I am forever indebted to the Ronald McDonald House Charities) was on the floor staffed by volunteers and stocked with food and coffee for the families of the kids on the pediatric unit. So be kind to someone, it really can make a difference!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We Interrupt This Life to Cope With a Seriously Sick Child

I've been away but it's been no vacation. Kyle had emergency surgery last Thursday and we've spent the last 8 days either in the hospital or working out plans to keep life going for our other kids so we could get back to the hospital and relieve other parent.

Our family and friends have been a huge help. Thankfully, Kyle's on the mend and will be home soon (hopefully tomorrow). Hopefully, my posting will become more regular shortly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Hereby Declare Today Boxer Day!

I can't believe it but I finished my first pair of boxers late last night. They looked like boxers. They even looked to be about Kyle's size, which was good since they were made from the pattern that used his measurements but would they actually fit??

This morning we had no time for trying on boxers before we raced out the door to an early appointment to get the car inspected. When we got home, Kyle went into his room and tried on the boxers. He came out with a big smile on his face and a simple question, "Can I put my underwear in the hamper and wear these instead?"

Can you all see me doing my happy dance? He's worn them all day and the only change he's requested is perhaps a snap on the fly. Actually, that request came from his sister after he ripped off his shorts to show her his new boxers and accidentally gave her an eyeful. It's not a bad thought though.

I used the boxer pattern from Threadbangers. The only change I made was decreasing the length of the fly from 9 inches to 7 inches because these were for a child. This seemed to work out very well in the final product. Along the way I also discovered I could get an entire pair of boxers out of one of Jim's old shirts for Kyle. Rob may need a larger piece of fabric so I'm thinking of using the shirt fabric for a fancier front and the cotton sheet for a plainer back. We'll see. For now, I think I'll cut out the fabric for the rest of Kyle's boxers since I know the pattern is a winner. Cutting the fabric takes most of the time, the sewing goes very quickly once you understand how the pattern goes together.

I can't tell you how exciting it is to successfully make a pattern (with the help of a great tutorial from Threadbangers) and then sew an actual piece of wearable clothing. I feel so empowered, like this is one more thing I don't need to go to the store for. Can making my own underwear be far behind? (Hey Chile, did you try that pattern yet?) Imagine if I actually master sock making?? Socks from recycled sweaters could be next, my mind is reeling at the possibilities.

Actually my sock is coming along nicely. I finally figured out the whole heel turning business but it took me forever. Now if I can do this you can too, so what are you going to create? Come on, you can do it too!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Here's What's Going On

I guess I was busier without the girls here, because it never even occured to me to go near the computer this past week. I've been coming to terms with having just three weeks left of summer vacation. This morning was spent identifying things that no longer needed to be here. These items were packed into Jim's car and sent home with him.

What kind of stuff needs to go home? Mainly food that I know we're never going to get to in the next three weeks. In the past, I've left a food stash up here since we visit through the winter. All that is changing with the high price of oil. This year we're closing the house down for the winter. I'm bummed but I know its the right thing to do.

Speaking of the high price of oil, I'd like to introduce everyone to our new addition.

After months of trolling craigslist and ebay, we are the proud owners of a 3 cylinder, 5 speed, 1999 Chevy Metro. This baby gets about 50mpg and, even with the work it needed, came with a price tag of under $2500. It was a steal!! It's funny how your perspective changes as you mature. In the early years of our marriage we had one of these and we couldn't wait to upgrade. Fifteen years later we were kicking ourselves in the pants for selling it and yearning to buy another. BTW, if you're wondering why we didn't just buy a hybrid, this gets higher mileage with a much lower price tag.

If kicking ourselves in the pants got you thinking, "what about those boxers you keep talking about making?" fear not. I have an update to share. First let me say, I'm a moron for not realizing that, although I need two of each pattern piece, they need to be mirror images of each other. For the feeble minded, and I include myself in this category, this means either fold your fabric right side together and cut both pieces at the same time or remember to flip your pattern before cutting. I did not do this on the first pair and as a result, one piece will be right side in when I sew them together. I'm calling it a fashion statement but I'm fooling no one. Both boys recognized my mistake immediately. Kyle told me it was ok, which was good since the first pair was his.

I discovered that elastic is cheaper by almost half if bought off the roll rather than in little packages. Elastic ($.89/yard for 3/4 inch non rolling) and a king size cotton sheet (I believe it was $1.50 at the thrift store)are the only purchases I needed to make for the boxer short project. The sheet is to augment the collection of shirts that I'm using for fabric.

In terms of actual progress, I have both patterns made and pieces cut out for the first pair, although it isn't pinned yet because I got distracted with the bobby sock pattern from Easy Knitted Socks. I can't help it, knitting is an addiction! Here's the thing though, with the boxers I can see how the pattern will become the final product, not so with the socks. I can't figure how this heel turning business leads me to a finished sock. That's part of the addiction. I want to see how it turns out and I want to see it NOW!!!

Finally, in the interest of increasing the longevity of things we already have rather than buying new stuff, let me share the story of Jim's hat. It's just a baseball cap that says Lake George on it but it fits him the way he wants it to and the brim is bent just right...you know how it is. A while back he went to put it on and the buckle that you slide the piece through to make the hat tighter, fell off in his hand. There was no way to reattach the buckle since the center piece had broken off. I tried sizing the hat to Jim's head and sewing it permanently but the result was a hat that was too loose. It's hard to pin something tightly while its on the head of someone you love without stabbing them in the brain.

Jim was ready to chuck the hat but I begged for one more crack at it. He's a good sport but he had nofaith in my ability to fix this problem. Frankly, neither did I but pride and cheapness is a tough combination to reel in without exhausting every possibility first. I came up with the idea to slit the strap (using my favorite sewing tool, the seam ripper) that I'd sewn in place and insert a pieced of elastic to hopefully tighten the hat back up. Imagine my shock when it actually worked exactly as I'd planned! The hat is officially back in business.

I really love the feeling that comes with creating and repairing things. It seems everything I make or repair gives me the desire to make or repair something else.

Now I'm off to put on an Isaac Hayes record.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Making a Plan

After a whirlwind weekend of entertaining guests, I'm sitting in my newly quiet house, soaking up the silence and making plans for the upcoming week. It was great to have visitors (first Jim's family, then mine with only a few hours in between) but the pace of life ramps up so much higher when guests are here. It seems I've grown used to a very slow crawl.

So what are my plans for the week? Actually, I'm not quite certain. On Tuesday, the girls are leaving via Amtrak to meet up with my brother's family and head to an out of state wedding. For a whole week I'll only have two kids in the house. It's been a long time since I only had two kids in the house. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm trying to figure out if I'll have more or less time as a result. I mean the girls do the dishes and walk the dogs. Then again, the girls also create a lot of dishes and normally I have to take time out from my day to drive them to and from work. I think I'm going to come out ahead in this so...

My goal is to at least have the patterns made for the boys' boxers and at least one pair cut out and pinned by the end of the week. Measuring and cutting that first pair should be the time consuming, scary part of this project.